Ways to Fight Drowsiness

Being chronically drowsy can be a real inconvenience: it can make it hard to focus at work, and hard to be engaged in social situations. Many people experience drowsiness for a number of reasons, from having a sleep disorder to working long hours to medical conditions. Luckily, just because you are experiencing chronic drowsiness doesn’t mean that it’s something that you have to live with every day.

How to Fight Drowsiness

There are a few ways to fight drowsiness without overindulging in highly caffeinated or other artificially energized beverages:

  • Look away from the screen: If you look at a computer screen all day, make sure that you are periodically looking away–prolonged screen exposure causes eye strain, which can worsen fatigue and tiredness. One way to effectively reduce screen time during the work day is the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes that you stare at a screen, take 20 seconds to look away and stare at an object roughly 20 feet away from you. These tiny screen breaks can make a big difference when it comes to fatigue.
  • Boost your blood sugar: Low blood sugar can be one of the main culprits of daily fatigue. Eating a healthy, sugar-boosting snack during the day can be a huge help when it comes to reducing daily drowsiness. Some snacks that are great for a midday blood sugar boost, according to Medical News Today include:
    • An apple
    • A banana
    • Greek yogurt with berries, honey, or oatmeal
    • A pinch of cinnamon
    • Dried fruit
    • Peanut butter
    • And less healthy: a candy bar
  • Get moving: Just getting a good walk in every day can boost your energy levels, according to a California State University, Long Beach study. Walking gets the oxygen flowing throughout your whole body- including your brain and muscles- which can knock you out of a drowsy funk!
  • Exercise: A University of Georgia study found that low-intensity exercise can increase energy levels by 20%, and reduce fatigue by as much as 65%! So what constitutes a low-intensity workout? While it varies person-to-person based on a number of different factors, some common low intensity workouts include:
    • Swimming
    • Walking
    • Yoga
    • Household chores, like vacuuming, gardening, and yard work

Causes of Drowsiness

According to an American Family Physician study, drowsiness (or daytime sleepiness) can be caused by a few things:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s, asthma, and gastrointestinal disorders
  • Psychiatric conditions, particularly depression and anxiety
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

OSA is co-morbid with hypertension, diabetes and coronary disease, making each of these conditions a potential cause for daytime drowsiness.

The Dangers of Drowsiness

Outside of causing productivity problems in work and school environments, drowsiness can also be dangerous, and sometimes fatal. According to that same American Family Physician study, sleep problems contribute to over 100,000 vehicle accidents a year, resulting in 71,000 injuries and 1,500 annual deaths. Drowsiness as a result of poor sleep has also been shown to have negative consequences in regards to personal help.

If you find that you are consistently drowsy and having excessive issues with sleep deprivation, it’s best to contact your personal physician. While some of the above tips may end up helping, they are no substitute for the expertise of a professional doctor. Difficulty sleeping and/or daytime drowsiness can be the symptom of a medical or psychological condition, so it is important to get in touch with a professional who can make an assessment and help rectify or mitigate the problem.